Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Shot in the Dark

A Shot in the Dark; Comedy, UK/ USA, 1964; D: Blake Edwards, S: Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer, George Sanders, Herbert Lom

The chauffeur Miguel is shot in the mansion of the rich Mr. Ballon and maid Maria is found with a smoking gun. Inspector Clouseau is sent to investigate the case - enchanted by Maria's beauty, he claims she is innocent and suspects the jealous Mr. Ballon actually killed Miguel and placed the gun in Maria's hands. Clouseau releases Maria from prison and follows her, much to the annoyance of Commissioner Dreyfus, who is sure she is the murderer. After 8 other people die, Clouseau finds out Mr. Ballon's wife actually shot Miguel because she was in love with him, while Ballon placed the gun into Maria's hands. Just as they are about to escape in Clouseau's car, it explodes - because Dreyfus planted a bomb hoping Clouseau would drive.

Legend has it that "A Shot in the Dark" was originally supposed to be a crime comedy adaptation of the play "L'Idiot" by Marcel Achard, but when Blake Edwards jumped in as the director he rewrote the whole script just to include the popular character inspector Clouseau and get a fast sequel of his previous '63 hit "The Pink Panther". The movie itself is good and funny, but a step backwards compared to the original, even more heavy-handled and forced than in the first story, making one wonder why so many critics praised it because it deteriorated into just a childish comedy consisting only out of inspector Clouseau bumping into something or tripping upon something. Peter Sellers is once again very good in the leading role, but it's obvious he didn't like it which caused him to reject the next "Pink Panther" role in '68 film "Inspector Clouseau", until 11 years later when he finally returned to play Clouseau once again. Those expecting clever dialogues or ambitious comedy will stay shorthanded since this film doesn't offer practically any, relying only on simple physical comedy in the manner of Louis De Funes, where everything was rushed - most noticeable in the weak ending - but Edwards' sense for comedy still managed to deliver three ontological comic moments. One is the scene where Clouseau unlocks the locker but leaves the key in it, which is attached to his pocket, then turns away and causes it to rip his upper pants, the other when he plays billiard with a hooked cane and the third one is his visit in the nudist camp, which was so unbelievable that it probably caused Myers to copy it a hundred times with his "Austin Powers" serial.


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